A Salute to Leadership!
November 12, 2019
In my travels recently, I met a long-haired artist at a coffee shop in Santa Monica. I sat in judgement of him for a while seeing a stack of books on his table and wondering if the guy actually worked for a living. As usual, if you take the time to meet someone, their value comes to the surface quickly and the judgement becomes just another life lesson.
Mark has a deep love and respect for the military. Not what I expected at all. His father, Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson was part of the 95th Bomb Group, 334th Squadron, a B-17 Pilot in WWII. If you visit Mark’s website, you will see his tribute to his now deceased father. www.MarkErickson.com
In a previous Marketing Minute, I shared of my deep respect and love for one of my business partners fathers, RL. Robert Longardner is the father of our CTO, William Longardner and was a dear friend and mentor of mine. I was friends with RL years before he introduced me to his son William. RL was not only a military hero, he was a hero in how he lived his life, never falling for the venom that the world had to offer.
His rejection of material wealth and acceptance of intellectual wealth in its place has been forever etched in my mind. A man who dies full of knowledge shared, far defeats the man who dies full of wealth stored! (my quote, if you are looking this one up).
I got to thinking. The military creates amazing selfless leaders. What can we learn from men who have rejected wealth and fame for pain and suffering? My eldest son, Christopher, left his new bride of just one week to head to Fort Benning, GA for five months for intense officer training. Imagine being willing to leave your brand-new wife to serve others?
Last night, Chris Facetimed us as my youngest, a junior in high school, was blowing out candles on his 17th birthday cake. Chris turned the camera on himself to reveal a body covered in poison ivy from five days of sleepless nights rucking through the 90+ degree days and nights in South Georgia.
As leaders in our business, will we ever be called to these types of sacrifices? Are we man and woman enough to persevere through unplanned challenges while maintaining our character? The U.S. War College is in Carlisle Barracks, PA. As a research project, Lt. Colonel David J. Smith, U.S. Army, contrasted the leadership characteristics of the U.S. Army and Franklin Covey models.
Most know Stephen Covey as the author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” What stood out to me in reading his study was this: Lt. Colonel Smith writes this about the Army leadership model: “In the end, it is what the leader does by his actions that matter.” Lt. Colonel Smith goes on to say that in the Covey model, “In its simplest form, leadership deals with effectiveness – doing the right things.” Both speak of action being required to be a successful leader.
Consider some of these actionable quotes from a few of our famous military leaders.
• “The most important thing I have learned is that soldiers watch what their leaders do.” General Colin Powell
• “It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle.” Norman Schwarzkopf
• “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” General George S. Patton
• “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln
One of my all-time greatest heroes is my father-in-law, Edmund Govan. Edmund’s life started nothing like those of us reading this column. Edmund was the illegitimate son of a young English girl in London. After being left in a basket at the gates of the Foundling Hospital in London, an orphanage chartered to “the education and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children,” Edmund remained in institutional care his entire formative years, as he was never adopted.
Because he was full of life, energy, and spirit, the leadership decided that Edmund should be groomed for military service. As adulthood took over, Edmund shipped off to The Netherlands as part of the Royal Army to rid that nation of one Adolf Hitler.
Edmund, now passed away, was inspirational. He was never one to complain, loyal and loving, generous, and rich in wisdom. Like RL, financial fortune passed him by, but he was wealthy with words, passion, and a man of intense faith.
Leaders do hard things. Leaders don’t look back. Leaders take risks. Leaders put their comfort behind the comfort of others. Leaders get their reward from service and don’t regret it or have a grudge against it. Edmund, RL, Lt. Erickson, Chris, all are leaders we can use as models for our own lives and organizations.
On a side note, a movement that has remained strong in the Netherlands is the adoption and caring for the graves of American Soldiers. Because of the deep respect and appreciation for the American Soldiers, today, every single grave of an American soldier is adopted to be cared for and respected with visitations and flowers by a citizen of the Netherlands.
The action is that of respect for the leadership model of selfless action by our soldiers, including the ultimate sacrifice and gift of their lives. It is also an action that reminds the Dutch that we all remain vulnerable to misguided leadership and to be on the ready and lookout for the next injustice.
Visit https://www.adoptiegraven-margraten.nl/en/ for more information on grave adoption.